SAN ANTONIO (CBSMiami) – The greatest players in sports history always found a way to rally themselves and their team when the odds were stacked against them. For LeBron James, after a horrid Game 3 performance, that time is now.
“Well, honestly I just have to play better,” an honest James said after the game. “I can’t have a performance like tonight and expect to win. I’ve got to shoot the ball better, make better decisions and I will get into the film and see ways that I can do that. I’m not putting blame on anybody, I’m owning everything that I did tonight.”
The more precise way of putting it may have been saying he would own everything that he didn’t do in Game 3. LeBron looked lost and afraid of shooting the basketball at times in Game 3. Shell-shocked may have been the best way to describe James until a brief spurt near the end of the third quarter.
The Spurs’ gameplan against LeBron was simple: deny him access to the lane and take their chances on LeBron being able to hit jump shots all night long. In this game, James didn’t challenge the Spurs’ defense and settled for longer jumpers that are arguably the worst shot in basketball.
It ended up with LeBron finishing with just 15 points on 7-21 shooting and 1-5 behind the three-point line. James did have 11 rebounds and five assists in the game, but also two costly turnovers as well. Overall, James finished with a -32 in +/- rating in the game.
Quite possibly the most telling stat of the night was LeBron’s free throw shooting, or complete lack of, because James, who has lived at the line in some games, took 0 free throws in Game 3. Fellow starters Udonis Haslem and Mario Chalmers also took no free throws in the game.
The fact LeBron took no free throws reflected on him not driving into the lane and initiating contact with the Spurs’ defense. While the lane has been blocked to a large degree, there still have been some lanes and James should be expected to exploit that.
“I have to do better,” LeBron reiterated. “If I’m better we’re better and I have to be better. I’m putting everything on my chest and on my shoulders and I have to be better. My teammates are doing a great job and I’m not doing my part.”
While that is the right thing to say, it’s going to be a completely different animal trying to put it into play against the Spurs. Unlike previous series’ the Heat can’t just hope San Antonio will make enough mistakes for the Heat to win; Miami, and specifically LeBron, has to go and take it to and from the Spurs.